Damp Weather Douses the Blaze in Home-Opener 4/22/18

Photo Credit: John Zumbado

John Zumbado, Beat Writer Atlanta Blaze
Lacrosse is Awesome

The Atlanta Blaze (0-1) kicked off the 2018 MLL season hosting the Florida Launch (1-0). It was a rain soaked and windy day at Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw; and although the weather played a part in the sparse crowd, others were prepped and ready to brave the damp weather to see their team open the season.   Final Score:  Florida 13—Atlana 10.

Following the tribute to their former fallen head coach Dave Huntley, the Blaze came out of the blocks slowly, spotting the Launch five straight goals before notching their first goal by Michael Begley with 55 seconds remaining in the first.

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Launch Goalie Austin Kaut led the stifling defense in goal, culminating this week’s league high 20 saves.  The all-out offensive Launch-assault was led by Sergio Salcido who tallied his first hat trick, before the end of the first half.

Closely following Salcido, for the Launch, were Dylan Molloy and Nick Mariano, who scored two goals each.  Molloy closed out the two-goal day with two assists; and Nick Mariano adding an assist tally of his own.

The Blaze were led by Kevin Rice who notched a hat trick.  New Blaze addition Deemer Class put up two goals, one of which was the first Blaze’s two-pointer of the season.  Class also tallied an assist, finishing out the night with a total of four points.

Following the Launch’s first quarter scoring onslaught the Blaze rallied early in the second period notching, three goals.  Tommy Palasek started the Blaze off with a second quarter power play goal.  A few minutes later the Blaze’s Kevin Rice found the back of the net with an unassisted goal.

Florida didn’t waste any time, quickly responding to and ending the brief Blaze run with two straight goals, one from the Launch’s Salcido, capping out his hat trick.  The Launch’s next net finder was Steven Brooks, netting a nifty goal with an assist by Dylan Malloy.

The Blaze’s Michael Begley add another goal late in the 2nd.  The Blaze goal was immediately followed by another Launch goal, this time from Tim Barber on an assist from Nick Mariano with three seconds in the half.  The late Barber/Mariano tally at the end of the half left the rain-soaked Blaze crowd more than a bit down, at 9 – 4.

Following half time, the Florida kept the pressure on, with two quick unassisted goals by Tom Moore and Jarrod Neumann.  The Blaze netted the next four goals: Matt Gibson with an assist by Kevin Rice started the second half Blaze scoring streak.  Kevin Rice would sandwich the Deemer Class late third quarter goal with a pair of goals, assists from Matt Mackrides and Tommy Palasek.  Class’ goal was also assisted by Matt Mackrides, netting the midfielder two points in the contest.

Photo Credit: John Zumbado

As the fourth quarter started the Blaze were poised to turn up the heat.  A faceoff win by the Blaze’s Brent Hiken and a Blaze man up opportunity minutes later resulted in no points.  The Launch’s Nick Mariano’s second goal (assist from Dylan Malloy) turned the heat up on the Blaze, putting the margin at 12 – 8.

The no quit attitude of the Blaze remained.  Following another face-off win, Matt Gibson found Deemer Class just outside the two-point line, for a nice feed and two-pointer.  Tipping the score to 12 – 10, in the Launch’s favor.  Jarrod Neumann sealed the deal for the Launch, with a long 1 pointer, on an assist from Ryan Drenner, bringing the score to 13 – 10.

Two personal fouls by the Blaze in the last five minutes of the game derailed the comeback, leaving the rain-soaked Blaze crowd solemn but hopeful for next week’s game.

Remembering Dave Huntley (1957 – 2017)

  • Prior to the start of the game, the Atlanta Blaze organization honored the passing of their head coach Dave Huntley
  • In a tribute to their fallen coach, Atlanta Blaze honored their former coach who passed away suddenly at the age of 60, in December of 2017.
  • Coach Huntley was a three-time All-American at Johns Hopkins, a native of Toronto Canada, helping to lead the Blue Jays to back-to-back championships in 1978 and 1979.
  • Huntley also help the Canadian national team win a world championship in 1978.
  • Huntley was a member of the US, National US and Canadian Lacrosse Halls of Fame.
  • In the video tribute honoring Huntley highlighted Blaze coaches and players shared moments and personal insights to their well-loved and fallen coach.
  • Coach Huntley is survived by his wife, Nancy, and their two children, Kevin and Michelle.

John Zumbado, Beat Writer Atlanta Blaze
Lacrosse is Awesome